UN: Breaking Libya’s political stalemate requires positive steps

He underscored the “overwhelming demand and expectations” of both Libya’s citizens and the international community for timely elections that are necessary to complete the country’s democratic transition.


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UN Special Envoy Ján Kubiš has said the interdependent tracks of implementing Libya’s ceasefire agreement, political progress and economic reform are in danger of going into reverse.

Kubiš, who gave the warning while briefing the Security Council on Thursday at UN headquarters in New York, said positive steps were now needed to avoid backsliding.

Kubiš, also the Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), said to avoid a return to conflict, violence and chaos, the country should complete its democratic transition.

He underscored the “overwhelming demand and expectations” of both Libya’s citizens and the international community for timely elections that are necessary to complete the country’s democratic transition.

Despite wide-ranging meetings resulting in commitments to hold elections on Dec, 24, the UN official said that many of his interlocutors were not ready to walk the talk.

Noting that the constitutional basis for elections “should have been clarified by now”, he said that even after extensive sessions in Geneva in June, members of the decision-making Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) remained “fragmented”.

“Because of this failure of both constitutional reform bodies and the LPDF, the situation in Libya is getting more difficult, confrontational and tense,” the UNSMIL chief said.

“Institutional, political and individual interests stand in the way of finalising the necessary legal framework for holding the December elections, he said, calling those obstructing progress, “spoilers”.

The UN official expressed deep concern over the wider consequences of the political and electoral stalemate.

He warned that if the impasse was not resolved quickly, it could reverse the positive momentum seen just a few months.

“The ramifications of the political impasse and the risk it poses to other key national priorities, particularly on the security and economic side are already beginning to manifest themselves,’’ Kubiš cautioned.

Although the October ceasefire agreement continues to hold, the UN envoy raised concern over the unity of the military representatives from the opposing sides.

He called the 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission (JMC), fearing that the agreement could unravel if the political process remains stalled.

Stressing JMC’s vital role in implementing the agreement and paving the way for political progress, he emphasised that every effort must be made to preserve its unity and insulate its work from the political stalemate.

The government and 5+5 JMC have indicated that the main task of the UN component should be the monitoring of the withdrawal of mercenaries and foreign fighters, rather than verifying compliance with the ceasefire agreement.

Kubiš said it was imperative that Libyan and international actors agree on a plan to commence and complete withdrawal.

He also warned of renewed terrorist activities by violent extremists, particularly in the south, and urged those with a stake in Libya’s security to jointly address the threat.

While the overall humanitarian situation has improved since the ceasefire, serious challenges remained in ensuring that returned internally displaced people (IDPs) have adequate and sustained access to basic services, such as healthcare and education facilities.

The UN official noted that planned and often forced evictions targeting IDP communities by Libyan authorities was a growing concern, as are migrants and refugee attacks, reminding that “forced evictions without due process are human rights violations”.

At the same time, the migrant and refugee situation remains “dire” as the number of people attempting to cross the Mediterranean continues to increase.

“By 26 June, the Libyan Coast Guard intercepted and returned to Libya 14,751 migrants and refugees, exceeding the total number of all returnees in 2020,” he said.

He urged the government to “swiftly approve” the resumption of humanitarian evacuation and voluntary resettlement and return of migrant and refugees from Libya.

Kubiš also reported that the Committee of Libyan Experts on Combating Violence Against Women adopted in June the first comprehensive draft legislation in the Middle East region on combating violence against women.

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